My Story Growing Up Playing Tennis in the Czech Republic

 

Red Clay 1990s
Czech Republic (1990’s)

I grew up playing tennis on the red clay courts of the Czech Republic in the early 1990’s. I received my first tennis racket from Martina Navratilova at the same tennis club where she grew up. Almost 25 years later, I met her at the Czech Embassy in Washington, DC and she signed it for me, saying, “I hope it treated you well through the years.”

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Martina Navratilova signing the tennis racquet she gave me when I was a young kid. Czech Embassy (2017)

I moved to the US as a kid and transitioned to playing junior level tournaments. There were lots of ups and downs playing competitively and in high school I started focusing more on education. In college, I played on the club tennis team which had great opportunities to travel around the country. As a team, we visited NY, PA, AZ, NC, and other states, all sponsored by our school and by the USTA Tennis on Campus program.

I also played men’s open tournaments, winning a local doubles tournament with $300 prize money as my biggest success.

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UVA Club Tennis finishing 2nd at the 2012 USTA National Tournament. Cary, NC

After college, I suffered a pectoral injury that hurt whenever I extended far back for a forehand or backhand. Funny enough, I transitioned to my mom’s first sport, volleyball, and soon started to play more competitively on the beach.

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Winning a men’s open doubles volleyball tournament in Washington, DC (2017)

Volleyball has similar body mechanics to tennis, so it was easier to pick up than starting from scratch. The serving and spiking motion comes directly from hitting serves and overheads in tennis. Playing tennis on days after playing beach volleyball, I felt like I was reaching up higher for my tennis serves and smashes, due to the nature of jumping around on sand. I also felt so stable being on the hard court with my tennis shoes and could change direction so easily to run down many balls!

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2nd place men’s open doubles volleyball tournament finish in Washington, DC (2018).

This past 2018/2019 Virginia winter, I found a great group to play beach volleyball indoors. It was a great way to stay in shape for the upcoming summer volleyball season. I’ll keep you posted with my progress!

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